On Thursday, the Trump administration announced that states could now require Medicaid recipients who are able to work to get jobs as a way to ease them off of government benefits.
“The Medicaid program can and must do more,” said Seema Verma, who is the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “This gives us a pathway to start approving waivers. This is about helping those individuals rise out of poverty.”
After 50 years, Medicaid remains the nation’s largest insurance assistance program for the poor and had been expanded furhter under President Obama. Sixty-percent of adult Medicaid recipients currently hold jobs, but Verma says there are more people that could acquire job training or education, learn new skills, and find gainful employment.
Obvious exemptions include elderly people, those with disabilities, pregnant women, and children.
Reuters reported on one state already making changes to the system:
Kentucky last year proposed work requirements for able-bodied adults to get Medicaid insurance as well as new fees for all members based on income. A study found the proposal would reduce the number of residents on Medicaid by nearly 86,000 within five years, saving more than $330 million.
“Verma and other Republicans said implementing work and community engagement requirements could help improve health outcomes by connecting people with jobs and training,” the report added.
But Democrats aren’t on board and believe this program will cause some to lose coverage. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said, “This action by the Trump administration goes after people who are just trying to get by. Healthcare is a right that shouldn’t be contingent on the ideological agendas of politicians.”
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) added, “The Trump Administration’s action today is cruel and a clear violation of both the Medicaid statute and longstanding congressional intent for 1115 waivers, which are intended to allow states to expand access to Medicaid not restrict it. The administration and congressional Republicans are using these waivers as a weapon in their ongoing effort to cut essential services to Americans who are struggling to make ends meet.”
However, Verma has already received positive feedback from multiple states for the new requirement and believes that it’s best to remove the mighty hand of the federal government and allow states to determine how best to move forward for its own citizens.